*shels – Plains of the Purple Buffalo

This is good music, it’s very well made, well recorded, there’s plenty of detail and consideration, the bass lines are nice, the guitar some times are pretty, sometimes are heavier and sometimes carry very straight-forward-sounding riffs; the singing varies a lot, wandering between a post-rock shoegaze feel and screaming, sometimes solo, sometimes harmonized; the musical structures are loose and interesting. I’m not even sure how to classify this, since at times it sounds like metal, at other times, like pretty pretty girl music. These guys are not afraid to come up with long-ass songs and, during some of them, if you go to the kitchen and come back you might feel like it’s a different track. Some threads are instrumental, some have lyrics, in some there’s singing without lyrics and in couple of them there are synths that vaguely sound like vocals. Apart from the classic rock setup they play around with synths and trumpets at some points, which helps to keep the variation to a maximum.

So it’s kind of an interesting musical journey that demands a lot of attention from the listener but certainly with enough effort, grasp and talent behind it to actually deliver.

I’ve been struggling between categorizing it as 2deep4u or not, but in the end I won’t and I’ll tell you why. First, because the prettiness keeps it from being controversial or anything, but secondly, because they never wander so far away that someone might just “fuck this shit I’m going home”. It does go halfway there though, which makes it kind of “might be better to listen to while stoned” music, which probably means post-rock – the category I am actually going with.

But that’s at some points only, and maybe specially in the beginning. It’s like these guys want to scare off anyone who isn’t that much into music. There’s plenty of prettiness for whoever survives this vague intro which extends itself for more than 20 minutes and at least 4 tracks. And even after that, you have the 6th track, which is between post-rock and ambient.

These guys seem to be aware of this barrier they put up, because they released this specific single from the first truly accessible track of the bunch, one of the few. Unfortunately the single itself isn’t available for free listening on Bandcamp, but check out the oh so pretty album version, which is included in the single download:

Does the album catch on that feel and keep on being pretty? Oh no, it’s followed by an almost metal-sounding track with screaming and all. Want some more of the single track? 11th track, “The Spirit Horse”. And that’s it. I feel like an asshole, but the fact is I like the straightforward pretty songs more. I’m all out for instrumental post-rock, but the fact is the music these guys can deliver goes really well with vocals and could bring a lot of impact with meaningful singing in an Arcade Fire way, and who doesn’t like that?

That’s not what these guys want though, and what they deliver is great music that maybe doesn’t really need that. Like I said, it’s an interesting musical journey and well worth a listen from general music loving people.

Also, don’t fall to the temptation of turning up the volume during the quiet parts, specially with headphones. It will suddenly go up and burst your ear drums. You have been warned.

-Carpeaux

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